Donna Reed and June Cleaver sit in Donna’s kitchen having coffee. June is chain-smoking Camels, unfiltered.

“This role-model crap is killing me,” says Donna.

“I never even wanted children,” says June.

“Every morning it’s the same thing. The phone rings, and I sweep down the stairs, not hair out of place, smiling like the sun shines out of my ass. And it’s never for me. The call is never for me,” says Donna.

“What is a beaver anyway? Isn’t it a rodent of some kind? At least your kids have normal names,” says June.

“Just once I’d like to come downstairs in my robe and curlers and see that they’ve all bagged their own goddamn lunches,” says Donna.

“Did you see that outfit they put me in last week? Who the hell wears pearls and a cocktail dress to do laundry. And now I’m getting hate mail from women complaining that their husbands want them to dress nicer. Like it’s my fault. They weren’t even real pearls,” says June.

“Would you like something stronger?” says Donna, pulling a bottle of Stoli from the freezer.

“What do you say we bust out of this black-and-white world, Donna? Go find ourselves some living color — someplace where no one knows us and there are no more shirts to iron, or beds to make, or children whining ‘What’s for dinner?’ What do you say?”

“But June, what would we do? We only know how to be television mothers. How do we even know there are any other roles out there for us?” says Donna.

June lights up another Camel as Donna pours vodka over two tumblers of ice.

“You know something, June. I never wanted children either,” says Donna.

16 Comments

  1. Sarah Freligh

    Jayne, I’m loving the meeting of these two icons of motherhood and the situation that you put them in! Drinking Stoli! Smoking Camel non filters! Talking trash about the Beaver! I fully expect Wilma Flintstone to ring the doorbell and join them, brandishing a pitcher full of daiquiris.

    I think I love this most when it plays on and expands the central conflict here, the role model thing and the expectations that come with it and — most poignantly — the loneliness of the whole thing never being about them. To that end, maybe play a little more with setting, with the characters as part of the setting instead of talking heads, as a way to add to the tension. I get the feeling that they are not in harmony AT ALL with place and seeing a little of that in action would add a lot of the discomfort that they’re expressing in dialogue.

    And I would LOVE to see a June Cleaver monologue to the judge after she’s pulled over for blowing a number on the way home from Donna’s house . ..

    • Jayne Martin

      Thanks, Sarah. It was fun to just riff on these two. Love your idea for a sequel. 🙂 I’m really enjoying the craft essays and readings.

  2. Koss Just Koss

    I love this, Jane, how it circles back to not wanting children. Favorite lines: ““What is a beaver anyway? Isn’t it a rodent of some kind? At least your kids have normal names,” says June.” And “The phone rings, and I sweep down the stairs, not hair out of place, smiling like the sun shines out of my ass. And it’s never for me. The call is never for me,” says Donna.”

    I thought it was going to roll into a lesbian fling, but sort of glad it didn’t. I prefer your ending. Haha. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Jayne Martin

      Thanks, Koss. Hard to actually believe this was supposed to represent “real life” as that point in our history. Especially, because so many of us would watch these shows, then look at our own families with a resounding WTF? Thanks for reading.

  3. Francine Witte

    Jayne, this is great. I was a huge fan of both shows. Still am, to be honest. And the dialogue and references are spot on. The pearls and cocktail dress, And I love how the phone is never for them. What a fun piece!

    • Jayne Martin

      Thanks, Francine. I grew up on these shows, too. If was fun to play with the characters like this.

  4. Len Kuntz

    Hi Jayne.

    This was a dandy, with spectacular dialogue that sings. You’ve made Donna and June the Thelma and Louise of their generation. The sarcasm and comedic take is perfection, yet the way you humanize them, and the bits about children, really take this to a whole other level. So, so great.

    • Jayne Martin

      Thanks so much, my friend. Banter is fun to write. Can’t wait to see you in Seattle!

  5. David O'Connor

    Jayne, so good to hear your words again. Love the irreverence and wit, tight sentences, and great dialogue–especially how the last line/idea about the kids frames the whole moment. And what is a beaver anyway—great! Your ear is a fine instrument. This is a winner, so tight and full. Almost want to film this… Stoli!!

    • Jayne Martin

      Thank you, David. It was a fun write. I’d like to take credit but the characters kind of took the premise and ran with it. Love it when that happens. 🙂

  6. Robert Vaughan

    Hey Jayne, this made me laugh throughout, and yet. And YET. So many women, right? And also even though you use parody and comedy to illustrate a point about married women, stereotypes and role-playing, motherhood (more, more, more!!!) this is actually also sad. Deeply troubling. So it’s the sort of piece I love best, because it’s seemingly light and trivial, but also not. Like picking at a troubling wound. Wow, GF. This ROCKS!

  7. Andrea Marcusa

    Jayne, I laughed thru this. Well done! This hilarious conversation says so much! The dialog is totally believable, the situation funny, and the things they say are really spot on. I loved, “The phone is never for me.” it made me stop and think because when I used to watch the show, I never wondered why. It was her job to answer the phone and do all the other household tasks. Really smart writing!

  8. Jayne Martin

    Thank you, Andrea. Growing up watching these shows gave me a really skewed view on reality. Pretty certain they are responsible for my years of therapy. LOL!

  9. Anita Brienza

    Hi, Jayne! I love thinking that Donna and June palled around and talked smack (and maybe sometimes they unhooked their pointy bras and pulled them out of one sleeve!) and never wanted those children anyway – it’s great fun! I never thought about this before, but they were kind of yesterday’s social media icons that every woman measured themselves against but never measured up. Really great piece!

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